Interview with Visiting Author Erni Aladjai

Erni Aladjai has recently completed her writing residency at the Centre for Stories as part of Lintas Laut, an exchange of writers between Western Australia and Eastern Indonesia. Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australia Indonesia Institute, Lintas Laut shines a light on parts of both nations that are often under represented in cultural dialogue. During her time here, Erni attended events at Perth Festival’s Literature & Ideas weekend, spoke at Close to Home – Discovering Female Indonesian Writers alongside Krishna Sen, Alberta Natasia Aadji and Iven Manning, and spent time at the Centre for Stories working on her writing practice. Read on to hear more about her experience.

Photo of Erni Aladjai and Alberta Natasia Aadji speaking at an event

What was your experience of arriving in Perth?
The experience when I first arrived at Perth airport, I was worried about Australian Immigration, I thought there would be many questions, while my English ability was limited. It turned out that the officer just checked my passport then smiled and invited me out. Maybe because it was dawn. This experience is a relief to me.

What have you learned during your residency?
Many things I learned in Perth, from small things like using electric stoves and electric grills until seeing their pedestrian-friendly traffic systems, clean beaches and rivers, friendly and helpful people, especially the Centre for Stories, and how Western Australians celebrate the party of the people – ‘Highway to Hell’. 

What was the most enjoyable experience?
Lots of fun experiences in Perth, like watching street musicians, walking in the traditional Fremantle Market, traveling on the Swan River, meeting lots of new friends, seeing murals on the street and getting acquainted with good writers like Bindy Pritchard and Raihanaty Jalil’s Family.

What will you take back to Indonesia with you?
The hospitality of people in Perth is almost the same as the people of Indonesia, maybe because Perth is bathed in the sun so people are warm, like to laugh, and are full of humour.

What are you currently writing about?
I have written a kind of memoir about my two weeks in Perth. For the next project, I will write a short stories and maybe one book of non-fiction.
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